Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Big Fat Trip To Vietnam - Part 5

Girl on Perfume River (photo: jlvelasquez)

I did it my Huê

It was raining the whole time we were there. So we could not go on the Perfume River, but we did visit the Imperial Tombs. Huê was the capital of the Nguyễn Emperors, a feudal dynasty which dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. [Disclaimer: I'm a Nguyễn...same name as 38.4% of the Vietnamese population in the country and abroad...Like they say in Vietnam: Same Same, But Different...hehehe]. The whole complex of monuments in Huê, including the royal citadel, the imperial city and the emperor's tombs, is listed among the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The Nguyễn Dynasty produced thirteen Emperors, the first being Emperor Gia Long and the last Emperor Bao Dai.

We visited the tombs of three Emperors: Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc.

1) Tomb of Minh Mang, the second Emperor (1791-1841), autocratic and very rigid in his Confucianism.
Minh Mang's Tomb - I like the old decrepit look

2) Tomb of Khai Dinh, the twelth Emperor (1885-1925), much hated by the population for his close collaboration with the French. Rumour has it that he was homosexual.

The Ex, under the rain, in front of the mausoleum

Gilt statue of Emperor Khai Dinh (photo: Historical Architecture of Asia)

3) Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, the 4th Emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty. He reigned from 1847 to 1883. A case of smallpox left him impotent so he had no children despite a huge harem of wives. According to legend, he died in 1883 cursing the French with his dying breath.
It was raining too hard, I couldn't take any decent pictures, so here are two I found by googling.

Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc

Fancy shmancy shot of another view of Tu Duc's Tomb

Next, we visited the Thiên Mu Pagoda. Let's read from the Asian Historical Architecture site.

«Thien Mu pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and the beautiful scenery beyond. Although the 21-meter tall tower is the centerpiece of the temple, the history of Thien Mu extends back to 1601, when the temple was founded by Nguyen Hoang, governor of Thuan Hoa province. Legend says that Nguyen Hoang built the temple to fulfill a prophecy from a 'fairy woman' (Thien Mu) that a great lord would arrive to build a pagoda for the prosperity of the country. The temple also displays a 2000 kilogram bell cast in 1710 and a stele from 1715

Here's the bell. After Forty and K8 finished banging on it, Forty looked under the bell and found four feet!!!!! Turns out a couple was hiding inside the bell to smooch! We laughed so much, but the embarrassed couple never came out of the bell.

Personal highlight: We ate the best banh cuon I have ever tasted at a secret restaurant where we were taken by our driver.

Not the same banh cuon I'm used to as a Southerner, but boy was it ever good...

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